Games to Foster Social & Emotional Skills

Games and activities can be powerful tools for helping children process their feelings, develop essential life skills, and build stronger connections. Here are a few game recommendations from Kelly Miller, LCSW, RPT/S, RYT-200 & owner of Play Therapy Connection, that can assist you in supporting your child as they journey through the world of emotions and relationships. Jenga: Conquering Anxiety Jenga is one of the most helpful games in addressing anxiety: you've got a wobbly tower that you know is going down sooner or later. Let your child talk about how their body is feeling upon removing a block and the big sigh of relief when their turn doesn't end in a crash. Name the feelings coming up within you, describe the sensations in your body and the relief you feel when your turn is over or the tower crashes. Jenga can act as a training ground for naming feelings, sensing what's going on inside, and finding ways to handle the ups and downs. Candyland: Navigating Change and Disappointment Candyland is a great way to deal with change and letdowns. In Candyland, those candy cards can either send you soaring forward or take you on a wild detour; life can be like that too. Use Candyland to help your child put words to their emotions when things don't go as planned. Show them how to say what's on their mind, notice what their body is telling them, and find tricks to stay connected to themselves when disappointment strikes. Operation: Building Frustration Tolerance You can think of Operation like a boot camp for building up patience. In this game, you've got to pull out tiny pieces without setting off that buzzer, often frustrating us when we can't quite get what we need. You now have the opportunity to model and/or coach taking a deep breath, regulating, and trying again. Playing Catch: Fostering Connection and Attachment Playing catch is a wonderful way to foster connection and work on relationship building skills. During a game of catch there is a back and forth rhythm, just like in a secure relationship with predictability and consistency.  Sometimes you catch it, sometimes you miss—it's all part of the game. In healthy relationships there are moments of attunement (when there is good back and forth) and times when we don't get it right (rupture) and need to try again (repair). This is a great opportunity to highlight these dynamics while playing with your child. Have you played any of these games at home? Let us know how it went! If you're looking for additional support for you or your child, please click here and someone will reach out.